Avoiding Leadership

For most of my life I have avoided leadership. I occasionally get feedback from people who know me, or my merry pack of healers where they say something like “You know you’re a leader, right?” I smile and know that I’m avoiding leadership again.

When I was in junior school, I was selected as a ‘monitor’. I didn’t think much of it but I rose to the challenge and I did what was expected of me. When I was in high school I did not expect to be appointed as a prefect. It was a huge shock to me and I remember wondering if I really heard my name being called. I went home quite amused and pleased that others had noticed my capacity to lead. I’m didn’t do a perfect job of it and I recall some failures in that role quite clearly.

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There are definitely times in my life where I have hidden from the spotlight and tried to blend into the background. The reasons for that are too complex and perhaps not so interesting to go into in one blog post. But I do struggle being seen. It is something I have worked on this year because my future entails spreading awareness about burnout and to do that, I need to be seen.

In one exercise I did at a workshop, I had to stand in front of a group of people who stared at me for several minutes. It was excruciating for me. I know that they felt and sent love and approval, by the nature of the people attending the workshop. And still how much I struggled to be seen and to receive.

This is something I know I need to work on. And this theme of leadership keeps emerging for me. It was my team mates at work who encouraged me to push for my first promotion. And once I was in a leadership position, I enjoyed it. I like setting the direction and working on the team dynamic, promoting harmony and steering everyone in the right direction.

In my role as business owner, I got involved in networking functions where I was quickly put in charge of running meetings. I had to relinquish this responsibility when I became too sick to work. At work, during our company restructure, I found myself too weak to lead. A bad leader was selected and I found that I could not follow him. Certainly, I needed to recover before starting something new but it is telling for me. I can follow, but I can only follow a very strong leader. Otherwise, I need to be leading.

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In being sick, and recovering from burnout I have retreated from many social and work-related engagements. To heal, it was necessary to scale down outings and work engagements. However, it is tricky to break back into the circles and let everyone know that you are ready to participate again. I feel a little rejected and uncertain that I’ll be welcome back because some people don’t understand fully why I needed to withdraw.

I’m finding myself at the point where I want to start networking to spread the word of my new offerings and to look for opportunities to speak. I have to work on my own personal brand and to be clear on what I offer. I need to hone my elevator pitch and to project confidence. At times I do feel a little shaky and unsure of my new career but I’m hoping that it will take shape as I practice more. I’m facing a lot of rejection and difficulties in the months ahead as I begin to sell the new me. It’s really difficult to push forward and to be resilient in the face of rejection and apathy around something I feel so strongly about.

I have been working on my book again this week and it has brought me so much joy. I have a rule that I take an afternoon nap on the days that I exercise but there is one exception to that. If I’m writing, I don’t need the nap and I’ve come to realise it’s because writing energises me. I’m in flow when I’m writing and I don’t get tired. I need more of it in my day and I must work on structuring my day accordingly. I even have an idea for my next book and I’m putting together some basic ideas.

So the question remains, why am I avoiding leadership? I think it’s because it’s hard and it’s lonely. It’s much easier to blame your boss for your horrible job. It’s much easier to follow a list of performance indicators someone else has set for you. It’s really hard to stare at a blank canvas and to design your life and career. It’s a scary prospect to set the direction and not have anyone guiding or helping me. But I think I’m up for the challenge. I think it’s time I stopped avoiding leadership.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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